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Library Champions: Become an Open Access Champion

by Eve Jamieson on 2022-06-15T13:18:00+01:00 | 0 Comments

Our project is ‘Become an Open Access Champion’, so what is ‘Open Access’? Broadly, Open Access (OA) it is the idea that research outputs – typically, journal articles but also datasets, books, theses and more - are made freely available to as wide an audience as possible. It intends that researchers, students, everybody, are able to read, use and share the published results of research projects. But there are specific definitions and requirements for achieving OA that apply to authors and institutions who carry out, document and distribute research, and to readers who access the research that has been published. These can make it hard to fully understand what OA is and how it can help.

A lot of information and support is provided, by teams such as our Research Support team, to researchers and PhD students about OA – what it is, how to publish work in this way (which is often a necessity) and understanding the benefits to readers. However, there is little information provided to undergraduate and taught postgraduate students about OA, as beneficiaries of the outputs of OA publishing as students and researchers, and as potential authors of research publications themselves in future.

Our plan was to introduce our student Library Champions to OA through three hour-long teaching sessions, bookended by asking them how they find information for their studies and research, and how much they know about open access. This would assess whether our introductory teachings had been effective. We then asked them to find out the same information from their student colleagues. The aim of this work was to pass on knowledge of OA resources to our Champions, which they will hopefully find useful in their work. The Champions will also potentially become advocates for the concept of open access as a way of publishing, sharing and using research. We also gathered data about how familiar King’s students are with OA, and whether providing regular teaching on the subject would be valuable. Along the way we created the teaching resources we needed and could re-use in future.

We were lucky to receive interest from six students who were assigned to work with us on the project, and doubly lucky that they were participating in all levels of study – undergraduate, taught postgraduate, and postgraduate research – as this gave us an insight into the breadth of the King’s student population. Our Champions also had varying levels of familiarity with OA but all were interested and engaged members of the team, who maintained their commitment to the project through the working period of October 2021 to March 2022, and beyond.

Some data analysis and preparation of our deliverables remains but we managed to do all the things we intended. However, there were some challenges along the way.

  • Online delivery and interaction. All of our sessions and communications took place online using MS Teams and email. By the time the project began, we were all familiar with meeting and working virtually, but it is worth recognising that it can limit spontaneous interactions, questions and feedback. Online methods did provide some benefit though, as we could work asynchronously with students in different parts of the world, or just where timetables clashed, by recording our teaching sessions for later or repeat viewing.
  • Data collection. We planned to conduct organic ‘guerrilla interview’ style surveys, but had to develop way of doing this remotely to accommodate preferences and requirements when not everyone was on campus.

There were some unexpected opportunities too, which we were very pleased to be able to make the most of:

  • We were asked to deliver a session on OA to another group of Library Champions, which we opened up to our students to participate in and then co-delivered with one of them, using the material we had delivered earlier. A real bonus!
  • We are continuing post-project data analysis with one of our Champions, again after inviting them to take part if they would like to. We hope that this continues to be of interest to them – it is certainly another real bonus for us to have their insight at this stage.

So, as mentioned, we still have some work to do to pull together and present our findings, which we will share on this blog, but will sign off here by saying that we are hugely grateful to our Open Access Champion students for their commitment, enthusiasm, and productivity throughout the project. Thank you!

Dan Crane, Research Data Manager
Manuela Pallotto Strickland, Metadata and Digital Preservation Coordinator

Student Champions included Elaine Phang, Aleks Jagielski, Kiera Godfrey, and Nada Aljohani

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